Tribal Tattoos and the Politics of Cultural Appropriation Claims

22 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2020

See all articles by Marie Hadley

Marie Hadley

Newcastle Law School, University of Newcastle, Australia

Date Written: July 19, 2020

Abstract

This article explores the nature of cultural appropriation claims as a statement of possession over cultural property and a performative utterance that resists oppression. A close study of the aesthetics and ethics of tribal tattoo imagery, and in particular the tattoo created by artist S. Victor Whitmill for former world heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, is used to reflect upon the politics of alleging cultural appropriation. Empirical fieldwork with Māori tā moko artists is used to show that cultural appropriation claims are unstable property claims whose politics exceed the merely possessive. Critical perspectives on performativity expand the inquiry. It is argued that seeking inspiration from the art of the Other, as tribal tattoos do, is problematic – not so much because of the appropriation of cultural property per se but rather because doing so recreates colonial dynamics of demand, desire, and oppression.

Keywords: cultural appropriation, tribal tattoos, ta moko, political theory, performativity, rights claims

Suggested Citation

Hadley, Marie, Tribal Tattoos and the Politics of Cultural Appropriation Claims (July 19, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3655553 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3655553

Marie Hadley (Contact Author)

Newcastle Law School, University of Newcastle, Australia ( email )

University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.newcastle.edu.au/profile/marie-hadley

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
111
Abstract Views
641
rank
291,819
PlumX Metrics